Thursday, December 2, 2010

Cards for The Burgess Animal Book for Children

We have really enjoyed the cards for The Burgess Bird Book for Children that I downloaded from That Resource Site, so I decided to go ahead and make some for the animal book.

Please let me know if I made any mistakes so I can fix them.

Cards for The Burgess Animal Book for Children

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Arithmetic Village

Ok, I love the new site but it's not the same as a blog and I feel the need to blog right now.  :-)

Many of you may be unaware (due to my lack of blog posts these last couple of months) that we are adding some Waldorf elements to our homeschool day.  You may be aware that Noble Knights of Knowledge has been one of our favorite math programs so far, and also that it has been discontinued.  So unless you are lucky enough to stumble across a used copy for sale you are out of luck. 

Join Me at Arithmetic Village!

I just read a message board post that mentioned Arithmetic Village and I think these books might be just the thing to add to our homeschooling!  I'm so excited I feel like I could burst.  LOL  Sad, I know, the things I get excited over these days.  Unfortunately, with the holidays upon us and only one income we're going to have to wait to order them.  However, I promise that I will be ordering them as soon as I have the money!   (Assuming nobody buys them for me for Christmas....they are at the top of my list, but everyone generally insists on buying things for me, not for homeschool.....bah, humbug!)  Cori at Wonder in the Woods has already done a review, but I would love to know what other people think.  If you've used these books, please leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Where Have I Been?

Wondering where I've disappeared to?  We have our own webpage now, which I find much easier to keep up with than the blog!  Since the blog has mostly been a place to keep track of links, anyway, I think this will work out better for us. 

You're welcome to see what we're doing over at Mind-Fires Academy.  I still have a lot of work to do, but the first grade section, at least, is coming along nicely. 

If you have any comments or suggestions, feel free to e-mail them to us at

Friday, September 24, 2010

Earth Science Week

October 10-16 is Earth Science Week.  Since we are studying the science of Earth and space this year, I have big plans for the week.  Although we don't do much unit study type of stuff, we will be that week!

The video Why Earth Science? was a great find.  I wish I had seen this before our first week of school!  I'll be showing it to the boys during Earth Science Week. 

We'll be watching Journey to the Center of the Earth [again :-)] and using this very cool guide (pdf) to go along with it.  In art, we've been talking about and making cartoons/comics, so this came along at the perfect time! 

We'll be becoming Junior Paleontologists on October 13th for National Fossil Day. 

We will be checking out cloud types and identifying those that we see in our own skies. 

We might be playing this Water Cycle Game.  I will definitely be printing this water cycle placemat.

We also might be using this Seismic Superheroes pdf document. 

That's what I have planned so far.  I have a feeling we will spend a lot of time on the Journey to the Center of the Earth and Junior Paleontologists activities, so doubt I'll add more....but with me, you never know! 

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Art and Picture Study Details

For artist study we are studying only 3 artist per year in-depth. This year those artists are Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael. We study six works of art by each artist, which is one work every two weeks.

On the first day of a new artist we read a book about him. So far our favorite books have been the Getting to Know the World's Greatest Artists series by Mike Venezia.

Then we fill out an artist biography notebooking page about the artist. (I've made up my own for other artists based on this basic template.)

Lastly, we begin looking at our first selection of the artist's work. We spend only a couple of minutes looking at it. Then I ask a few questions from this list.

This is the only day that art takes very long, and it only happens three times per school year! That's manageable for me!

The second week that we study a work of art we try to reproduce it, or do a coloring page on the piece if I have one. If we're running short on time we simply study the work for a few more minutes and I ask a few different questions to get them thinking about the art.

For once weekly art projects we're using Discovering Great Artists by MaryAnn Kohl. I love this book! If you haven't seen it I highly recommend that you use Amazon's Look Inside! feature. (Be sure to read author MaryAnn Kohl's comment below this post, in the comments section!)  We read the brief biography of the artist and fill out the name, dates lived, and location born on a biography notebooking page for them, then we get to the project.

I love that the artists are in chronological order, it just seems to fit with the classical model. The boys' art notebooks are like little art timelines.

I take a picture of each project and print it on cardstock (I don't worry about being fancy and printing on photo paper.) Then we tape it to the notebooking page.  Done with art!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Song School Latin

A few months ago I was having a terrible time deciding what to do for foreign language study.  Nik finally decided that he wanted to speak Latin like the Romans and like some knights once did.  That decision led us to Song School Latin.  We've really been enjoying it! 

The workbook is all that is needed.  It comes with a cd of songs that correspond to the lessons.  The songs are catchy, and while it isn't great music I do find myself singing them throughout the day.  We've worked through three chapters and Nik is already using his new vocabulary in everyday conversation.  What homeschooling mom wouldn't love that?!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Weaving Potholders

We've recently been talking a bit about weaving and how it was done in the past as compared to how it is done today.  On a field trip to Genesse Country Village a couple of months ago we got to see an early American reenacter weaving a rug on a very large loom.  Last week the boys tried their hands at weaving potholders with those little kits you can buy in the craft section of your local big-box store.  They were so proud of their creations, and only needed a little help to finish off the edges. 

It was surprisingly educational and awesome for working on those motor skills!  Next up, potholders for their grandmothers and aunts as Christmas presents!  (Shhh, don't tell!)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

File Crate System

After reading what must be the longest thread in the forum's history over at The Well-Trained Mind, I decided to organize our school year using the file crate system. With a lot of help from Melanie's posts on her Springs of Joy Homeschooling blog, I finally have mine all set up and I am so happy with it!  I'm not going to get too detailed about how to do it since that is covered in the WTM post and on Melanie's blog, but I did want to share some of what I have done because I made a few modifications.

I decided to use 2-pocket folders, like this.  I filed all of the work in the left pocket and as we complete things they get placed in the right pocket. It is very easy to see what we still need to accomplish with this system.  The index card paper-clipped to the left pocket is the Library List for the following week. 

Behind that is a Shopping List for the following week.  The index cards fit in my wallet perfectly, and it is so nice to just grab them when I go shopping and be assured that I have all of the items on hand for our science, art, and history projects!

The yellow post-it stuck to the SOTW Activity Book page pictured here lists the pages in the Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia that correlate to the weeks' lesson. I stick it in the UILE as a bookmark at the beginning of the week and my son can read about the subject we're studying whenever he desires.

We have green for one child, blue for the other, and red for my files.  The week number is in the upper left corner.

I also have yellow folders for each of the months of the year that I've put seasonal ideas, crafts, and notes in.

I have 36 hanging file folders (1 for each week of the school year.) In each hanging file are our 3 folders. I didn't want them in open file crates due to the dust they would collect over the course of the year, so mine are in file totes with lids. Each tote holds 6 weeks of files, plus two monthly seasonal folders.
For work like First Language Lessons and All About Spelling, which I couldn't really rip apart to file, I printed a progress sheet and attached stickers for them to use as we complete each lesson.
For any lessons where another weeks' lesson is printed on the back I attached a small post-it reminder to move it to the next weeks' folder.
Please ignore the very wrinkled tablecloth in the pictures! I've finally relaxed my laundry standards and have started letting the boys help me fold. ;-)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Connecting History and Other Subjects

My public school education (in a good school, and as an honor student) was seriously lacking in nearly every way.  Sure, I learned how to take and pass a test with flying colors, but I retained so very little!  My 6-year-old son can tell you more about the history of the world than I can, and he's only had one year of instruction.....and he's retaining the information! 

Connecting math, science, and literature, to history is one of my favorite parts of homeschooling.  I came across a wonderful way to do so with chemistry today.  The American Chemical Society has four interactive features, including a timeline, of "National Historic Chemical Landmarks", or important events in chemical history.  They also have a This Week in Chemical History page.  We won't be starting chemistry officially for a couple of years, but I hope at least one of my readers can utilize this resource now.

One resource we will be using next year is Amazing Leonardo da Vinci Inventions You Can Build Yourself.  What a wonderful way to tie science to history, don't you think!?  This book is written for the nine-twelve age bracket and I will be using it with a just-turned seven-year-old.  However, he is a serious history buff and already thinks daVinci is one of the coolest guys ever.  LOL  If things seem to advanced for him to do we'll just set the book aside and use it on our next cycle through history.

I also just purchased Science And Technology In The Middle Ages by Joanne Findon.  I have high hopes for this book, I just hope it lives up to them!

And I imagine most of you have heard of Mathematicians Are People, Too: Stories from the Lives of Great Mathematicians, which is the perfect book for tieing math and history together!  There is also a second volume in what I hope will become an entire series!

Please comment and share what you use to tie history to other subjects!

Resources for Elementary Chemistry

Inquiry in Action—Investigating Matter Through Inquiry, Third Edition is a free printable resource from the American Chemical Society.  The activities in the book are also available separately on the Inquiry in Action website.  Designed for grades 3-8 it is something we will likely use when we get around to chemistry as an official subject.  (Right now chemistry is something we do for fun!)  It addresses the following topics:
● Scientific questions and their investigation
● Physical properties
● Physical change
● Dissolving solids, liquids, and gases
● Chemical change
● States of matter
● Density
Although not free, the American Chemical Society also published a couple of science books that look good for the preschool through second grade set.  I just ordered both of them (used, through Amazon, and for cheaper than the links that follow), titled

Since we're just starting to work on writing letters with my 4-year-old I thought the first title would correspond nicely.  It seems perfect for a letter-of-the-week type curriculum!  I'll let you know how we like them once we've had a chance to use them.

Chemistry Is Fun!

I had the best time introducing Nik to the wonders of chemistry this afternoon!  We started off having a ton of fun with some actvities from The Molecularium™ Project.  We built molecular oxygen, molecular hydrogen, water, carbon monoxide, hydrogen peroxide, methane, propane, butane, methanol, ethanol, glucose, fructose, vitamin C, vitamin A, sucrose, and bucky balls in the Nanolab.  What a fun and easy way to introduce atoms, elements, and molecules!

We'll be doing some of the activities from the teacher's guides available on the Educator's Resource page (scroll to the bottom to find the pdf download links) over the next few weeks. 

Nik was so excited to do this activity, and his understanding of molecules from this brief activity amazes me!  I love finding gems like this on the internet, and I hope you all use and enjoy them, too!

Color Me Physics!

A huge thank you to Doodle (of the WTM forums) for posting the link to Color Me Physics!  This is such a wonderful free resource.  I'm so excited to use it!

PhysicsQuest looks like a wonderful activity to do with middle schoolers.  Physics at Home has some great looking experiments.  I encourage you to explore the site and see what it is all about!  Very, very cool stuff!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Genesee Country Village

Last month we went on a field trip with one of the local homeschool groups to Genesee Country Village in Mumford, NY.   What a cool place!  We're going back in July for a Civil War Reenactment.  And in August they are having an event called The Life and Times of Laura Ingalls Wilder.  We won't be going to that one, but I had to mention it in case anyone within a couple of hours' drive of Mumford is a fan.  It is definitely worth the drive!

Statue Outside of the Carriage House Museum

Pioneer Barn


Drug Store

Post Office

Civil War Union Soldier (Sargeant)

At the Weaver's House

General Store

Shoemaker's Shop

Catholic Church

Toll Bridge


Saturday, June 5, 2010

Ancient Science by Jim Wiese

I think Ancient Science by Jim Wiese is such a cool science book, and makes a great companion to ancient history studies!  The only thing I'm not crazy about so far is that I don't have a handy shopping list to take with me when I go shopping.  I don't know about the rest of you, but science only gets done in this house if I have the supplies on hand well in advance of commencement of projects!

Instead of typing up my shopping list and printing it out for my own use, I thought it might be nice to put it up here so that it is accessible to everyone. 

Shopping List for Ancient Science by Jim Wiese

Friday, June 4, 2010

Preschool Printing Readiness

I have a few minutes to myself because my preschooler is off with his grandmother.  So what do I do?  I take the time to prepare his schoolwork and blog about it!  LOL

Nate will turn 5 at the end of July.  I have spent almost no time instructing him in letter formation.  I'm not even sure if he would recognize all of the letters of the alphabet yet!  He does know how to write his name, and has recently shown great interest in learning how to write the rest of the letters of the alphabet so that he can leave Daddy notes on the chalkboard.  As a result, I've spent rediculous amounts of time reading about handwriting programs on the homeschooling message boards, trying to decide which program is right for us. 

I think I've settled on Handwriting Without Tears (HWoT), but I haven't placed my order yet.  In the meantime, we're going to work on some Donna Young worksheets for printing readiness.  We'll start with Printing Readiness and move on to Printing Readiness 2 before starting HWoT.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Creative Kids Music

Someone on a homeschooling message board that I frequent posted a link to a fabulous opera activity at Classical KUSC and we had so much fun and learned so much that despite my current exhausted state I had to share it with you all! 

(Apologies for my lengthy absence; family health issues and a wonderful vacation have kept me occupied for some time now.  Also, apologies for the lengty run-on sentence.....but I'm too tired to go fix it!)

Engelbert Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel: Learning About Opera
Brahms in 1890s Vienna: Learning About Chamber Music
Rimsky Korsakov's Scheherazade: Learning About Symphonic Music

I sincerely hope that they add more of these activities!!! 

Monday, March 15, 2010

Live Animal Cams

Because we can't seem to get enough of these live animal cams, I have another link to share with you today.

Phoebe Allens Live Hummingbird WebCam

And while I'm at it, I have more live web cam links.  Wild Earth TV offers a variety of channels so you can see many different animals around the world in their natural habitats.  Very cool!

Updated to add ~  Live Owl Nest Box Cam

The discovery of these links coincides nicely with our new science unit on animals.  If you know of any more, please leave a comment and let me know what it is.  I don't think we could have too many!  :-)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Franklin Institute Hawk Nest

Someone sent a link to the K5Science Yahoo Group letting us know about The Franklin Institute Hawk Nest.  The momma has an egg in her nest.  This should be as much fun as watching Lily the Black Bear


Saturday, March 13, 2010

Earth and Space Science Plans

Next year we will be studying Earth & Space.  Our primary curriculum is R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey, but we'll be adding in plenty of activities from other sources.  One wonderful thing about R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey is the Try Before You Buy feature.  Click here --> RSO Earth & Space Level 1 (.pdf) to go directly to the try before you buy to see it for yourself. 

I'm working on my plans right now and will post them as soon as I am able.  I was going to post them right in the blog post, but quickly realized that I need more space than the column allows!  I'm working on a Word document that I will upload to Scribd as soon as I get it completed. 

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Ko's Journey

I just came across the coolest game!  If you read my last post about math you know I'm on a search for something to make our math lessons more exciting and enjoyable.  Unfortunately the game is for 5th to 8th grade students.  Maybe I could buy it for myself?!   

Put out by Imagine Education, Ko's Journey looks absolutely amazing and exciting, as well as highly educational. If anyone gets a chance to play it, please let me know how you like it!

Update ~ The game has been released!  I haven't bought it yet, but I'm still tempted.  Ordering and pricing can be found on this page and is $39/year for one student, or $59/year for 3 students. 

Earthquakes & Volcanoes

Although we'll be studying earth science next year, the recent quakes in Haiti and Chile have sparked conversations in our household that can't be ignored.  In my research (because living in the snow belt of NY I have zero experience with severe weather of any kind other than blizzards) I came across some really great resources that I wanted to share.  Not all of these will be appropriate for the early elementary years, so please preview.

Easy Fun School - Unit Study on Volcanoes and Earthquakes 
Earthquake ABC
Weather Wiz Kids - Earthquakes
Weather Wiz Kids - Volcanoes
Mrs. Thonus's Third Grade Stars - Volcanoes & Earthquakes
Teacher Planet - Earthquake Resource Page
The NASA Sci Files - Just How DO Those Plates Move? Experiment
USGS - Earthquakes for Kids
             (quizzes, coloring pages, animations....awesome site!)
USGS - Learning Links & Earthquake Activities
USGS - Latest Earthquakes in the World 
USGS - Latest Earthquakes in the USA
NOVA - Deadly Shadow of Vesuvius Classroom Activity
              (Website)  (Video not required)
NOVA - Volcano Above the Clouds (Kilimanjaro) Classroom Activity
              (Website)   (Video)
PBS - Savage Earth
Exploratorium - Fault Line: Seismic Science at the Epicenter
Juicy Geography - Shaker Maker Earthquake Simulator Project
Lesson Plans for Dragonwings by Laurence Yep
                    (set during 1906 San Francisco earthquake)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Making Math Fun

I think I've screwed up when it comes to math.  My oldest is not a math-loving-kid.  He is doing great with the MEP and Math Mammoth that we have been using, but he says he hates it.  He spends his days drawing, reading, and immersing himself in imaginative pretend play.  Numbers don't excite him.  So I'm back-pedaling and trying to come up with something to make him like math, or even love math.  I think story-based math is what I need.  I thought I might have found it with Noble Knights of Knowledge, but it appears that the company is no longer selling?  (ETA~I finally found a used copy of this and Nik loves it!)  I found a few lovely lessons called Gnomes and Numbers (and can't find the link now that I'm sitting here tying to post about it, of course!) They were on a Waldorf blog.  Hmmmmm.

Oh, I found it.......sort of!  The person who had the lessons on her blog is now selling her Waldorf curriculum.  It's A Little Garden Flower's A Journey Waldorf Math Book and I bought the e-book.  I can't wait for it to arrive in my inbox so I can try something new.  Nik loves stories, so maybe this approach will get him excited about math.

Does anyone have any other recommendations for story-based math, besides Living Math which we are already incorporating?

While I'm on the subject, I found a really cool site with some fun math things.  I particularly like this math worksheet (pdf) Name the Math Term.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Learning Centers

A post on The Well Trained Mind forums prompted me to take a couple of pictures of some of the learning centers that we have set up.

Geography Center 
 Maps, LeapFrog Explorer Smart Globe, a basket full of maps, and geography books, puzzle maps

Math Center
Right next to the geography center are our drawers full of math manipulatives and activities, 
math games, living math books, math puzzles, calendar, and meter stick.

Science Center

Science encyclopedias, books, planet model, human body poster, a basket full of field guides and parrot feathers, the top of the cabinet holds experiment kits, the top of the filing cabinet holds a rock kit and human body puzzle and shells, a plant to the left of the filing cabinet for them to observe and care for.  
The Martian Matter isn't supposed to be there on top of the animal encyclopedia! lol

Thursday, February 25, 2010

"Books For Children Concerning Diseases, Disorders, and Learning Differences"

The Monroe County Public Library of Indiana has a wonderful list of books on their site "Concerning Diseases, Disorders, and Learning Differences."  What a wonderful resource! 

Monday, February 15, 2010

With Pencil and Pen: Language Lessons for Primary Schools by Sarah Louise Arnold

With Pencil and Pen: Language Lessons for Primary Schools by Sarah Louise Arnold

What a lovely book this one is!  Medieval Mom posted the link on the Well Trained Mind forums and curious me had to take a peek.  I am so glad that I did!  I wonder if it would be way too much to work these into next year's lessons?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

My Apologies

So much for that New Year's Resolution, huh?!  I've been so busy with things that I've barely had time to finish two chapters of the book I'm reading, much less get to the blog once this week.  Three times is not likely to happen!  :-)

I'm trying to get the Grammar Land Worksheets completed, and I'm also working on formatting The Burgess Bird Book for Children for printing and finding coloring pages to go with it.  And while doing those things I'm trying to keep up with the school work as well as preparing my house for some remodeling/painting that will be starting next week.  Add in two birthday parties to attend this weekend and I'm beyond busy.  In fact, I forgot to eat breakfast this morning and it's now almost lunch time!  

If I don't get things up that you're expecting to see (like the Grammar Land Worksheets by mid-February) a gentle reminder would be appreciated!  If I can't remember to feed myself, I can't be relied on to get to these things when you expect me to, can I?  lol 

Monday, January 25, 2010

A Child's Introduction to the Orchestra

I'm always on the look-out for free audio books and educational songs to listen to in the car.  Today's little gem is from Arts Reformation: Children's Vinyl Record Series and is titled A Child's Introduction to the Orchestra.  You can find it under the second section (Golden Records) and can download the MP3 (it's a zip file) right to your computer. 


Sunday, January 24, 2010

2010/2011 Planning

I'm trying to plan for next year and it really does help to see it all written out in a list form.  Am I doing too much?  Not enough? 

Math Mammoth

books of his choice
Explode the Code to help cement some of the phonics rules

Classical Writing Primer
All About Spelling Level 1

Tales From Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb
Among the Forest People by Clara Dillingham Pierson
Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield
The Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle
Hans Christian Andersen Fairy Tales
The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew by Margaret Sidney
The Pied Piper of Hamlin by Robert Browning
Five Children and It by Edith Nesbit
The Story of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting
The Door in the Wall by Marguerite De Angeli
Heidi by Johanna Spyri
Saint George and the Dragon by Margaret Hodges
The Olive Fairy Book by Andrew Lang
The King of the Golden River by John Ruskin
The Burgess Animal Book for Children by Thornton W. Burgess
     (begin w/Mice with Pockets, and Others)

Walter De La Mare
Eugene Field
James Whitcombe Riley
Christina Rossetti

SOTW 2 + Activity Book
Otto of the Silver Hand by Howard Pyle
Good Queen Bess by Diane Stanley
Men of Iron by Howard Pyle
Unknown to History: The Story of the Captivity of Mary of Scotland by Charlotte Mary Yonge
Fifty Famous Stories Retold by James Baldwin
     beginning with The Barmecide Feast and ending with The Ungrateful Soldier 
     see the chronological order list here for details  
The Little Duke by Charlotte Mary Yonge (c. 943) study notes
Joan of Arc by Diane Stanley (1412-1431)

R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey: Earth & Space
Nature study from Classical Writing Primer

Music/Composer Study
Classical Music Composer Study 2010/2011 using Classics for Kids

Artist/Picture Study
As outlined on my blog: We Don't Need No Education
And we may be working on a foreign language by then.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Geography Lessons

Links to all of the blog posts on lessons that we're using with our first grader.

Lesson # 1 ~ Better Than Breadcrumbs : Maps and Symbols (maps)
Lesson # 2 ~ National Geographic Xpeditions: Getting Lost  (cardinal directions)
Lesson # 3 ~ Houghton Mifflin: Using Grids (maps)
Lesson # 4 ~ Create a map including your home and a familiar destination.  Include a key and an index.  Write directions from your home to the destination.
Lesson # 5 ~ National Geographic Xpeditions: Introduction to Latitude and Longitude (plus p.88 of The Earth: Geography of our World)
Lesson # 6 ~ hemispheres, poles, & the equator
Lesson # 7 ~ prime meridian and international date line/time zones
Lesson # 8 ~ continents and oceans overview
Lesson #  ~ Asia
Lesson #  ~ Africa
Lesson #  ~ North America
Lesson #  ~ South America
Lesson #  ~ Antarctica
Lesson #  ~  Europe
Lesson #  ~ Australia

Geography Lesson #1

Today's geography lesson was adapted from the Better Than Breadcrumbs : Maps and Symbols lesson plan found at

Materials Needed:
your favorite re-telling of Hansel and Gretel
breadcrumbs, or a group of items to represent breadcrumbs
a map of the room for each student
How to Draw Maps and Charts by Pam Beasant and Alastair Smith (or another book about maps)
a physical map, a political map, and a road map

1 ~ Read your favorite re-telling of Hansel and Gretel to your student(s).  

2~ Have the student(s) act out the story using bread crumbs, then discuss why Hansel and Gretel used flint stones and breadcrumbs in the story.

3 ~ Have the student(s) navigate from one location in the room to another.  Have them use different colored markers/crayons on their room map to show each path taken.  Examples:

     From the couch to the school desk. (orange)
     From the bookcase to the doorway. (blue)
     From the white board to the easel. (green)

4 ~ Discuss how a map can be used to let people know how to find their way from one location to another.

5 ~ Read the portions of How to Draw Maps and Charts that apply. ( pages 2, 4-11, 26 in the 1993 version we own)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Lily the Bear

We have been having so much fun watching Lily the black bear as she prepared, and then gave birth!  Visit the Black Bear Den Cam to see for yourself.  (Be patient if it isn't loading and try again.  There were over 20,000 viewers when I was watching earlier!)  Or check out the videos on YouTube:
Lily the Black Bear Starts Labor
The Birth of Lily's Cub

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Geography Revisited

We've done some re-thinking when it comes to geography lately.  Daddy wants to help teach the boys, and geography is one subject he would like to take over.  So far we've mainly done geography as it applies to our ancient history studies.

So now I have to come up with plans for geography as a separate subject.  I'm thinking lots of living books!  I'm also thinking we should start with some lessons in map and globe skills, directional compasses, and we definitely need to start geo-caching or letterboxing!  We need to cover the continents and oceans, land formations.  Hmm, what else?

I'm going to post each lesson that we complete.  You can find the list of links to all lessons in this post.

Geography Books List
* indicates a book that we have already read 
A Life Like Mine by DK Publishing
Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne (world)
B is For Brazil (World Alphabets) by Maria de Fatimo Campos (Brazil, South America)
The Brendan Voyage by Tim Severin (Atlantic ocean)
Brendan the Navigator by Jean Fritz (Atlantic ocean)
The Cay by Theodore Taylor (islands)
Far Beyond the Garden Gate: Alexandra David-Neel's Journey to Lhasa by Don Brown (Asia, Tibet)
Homesick by Jean Fritz (China)
How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman (world)
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell (islands)
Minn of the Mississippi by Holling C. Holling (rivers)
* Paddle to the Sea by Holling C. Holling (rivers)
The Penguin Family Book by Lauritz Somme (Antarctica)
Secret Water by Arthur Ransome (islands)
Somewhere in the World Right Now by Stacey Schuett (timezones)
The Story About Ping by Marjorie Flack (Asia)
* The Story of Anansi (Africa)
A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf by John Muir (the American south)
Tree in the Trail by Holling C. Holling (the American west)
Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne (oceans)
Uncommon Traveler: Mary Kingsley in Africa by Don Brown (Africa)
West From Home: Letters of Laura Ingalls Wilder, San Francisco, 1915 by Laura Ingalls Wilder (the American west)
Where the Forest Meets the Sea by Jeannie Baker (Australia)

Other Links of Interest
Wee Sing Around the World
Geology Coloring Book
National Geographic Kids
Sparklebox: Geography

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I Gave In and Bought SOTW!

I finally broke down and bought Story of the World Volume 1: Ancient Times and the activity book to go along with it.  After spending my morning pulling all of the pages out of the activity book to make for easier copying we spent the afternoon reading the first five chapters of the book and doing a few of the activities to go along with it.  We've already covered this material, but I wanted to hear the history from the SOTW perspective, and review never hurts!  We enjoyed the first five chapters, and my only regret is not buying it sooner!

We pulled out our Crayola Air-Dry Clay and made some small clay tablets to write on, as the ancient Sumerians did with cuneiform.  We decided to stick holes in the corners so we can attach some ribbon and use them for Christmas ornaments next year.  It seemed silly to make them only to throw them away in a couple of months.

The top one says "Alexander the Great" and was done by Nik, age 6. 
The bottom is, well.....I don't know what it is!.....and was done by Nate, age 4.

Not a bad day, all in all.  Now we need to catch up on the next twelve chapters so we can move on to new material.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Planning Next Year

Next year Nik will most likely be reported as a second grader.  It's time to start finalizing plans and getting my shopping lists in order so I can spend my spring and summer in the garden instead of sitting inside and planning!

Most of my shopping will be done at Amazon and Rainbow Resource.  I'll update with links later.  Right now I need to get to the post office!

MEP (free, but requires paper and ink/toner for printing)
Singapore Math (Standards Edition)
     Textbook 2A ($11.95)
     Workbook 2A ($11.25)
     Home Instructor's Guide 2A ($16.80)

books of his choice
Explode the Code 4, 5, 6 ($6.75 each

Classical Writing Primer
Cursive First (I'm still trying to decide whether to use this or not.)

selections from Ambleside Online’s Year 1 and 2 lists

SOTW 2 + Activity Book

R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey: Earth & Space
Nature study from Classical Writing Primer

Music/Composer Study 

Visual Arts/Picture Study

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Mastery Club

This is a club for students who are interested in achieving "above and beyond" the normal classroom expectations.  All you have to do is learn all about the topic, and then come tell Mrs. Renz the answers during your recess or lunch break, or before or after school.  You can become a 1 star member, all the way up to an 86 star member!   Learning never ends - thank goodness!

Now doesn't that sound cool?!  There are 84 challenges, from the categories "Social Studies", "Science", "Language Arts & Linguistics", "Math", and "Miscellaneous."  I'm thinking about taking the challenge myself!  This is definitely something we are going to work towards.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Architecture and Engineering

We won't be needing these links for a while, but I wanted to post them in case anyone else is interested in them.  They look like very interesting resources.

Frank Lloyd Wright Architect Studio 3D
Engineering for Earthquakes

Visual Arts Links

Renaissance Connection   art
My Pop Studio
Every Line Means Something Street-to-Studio, the art of Jean-Michel Basquiat

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Artist/Picture Study

I've bounced around a few different ideas for artist/picture study.  I'm fairly certain that we will be using Classical Writing Primer as our grammar/copywork program and that also includes picture study.  So we'll do those activities, in addition to my plan, whenever the kids show an interest.  That should expose them to quite a variety of art over the years.  The current plan (subject, and likely, to change) is as follows. 

3 artists per year
6 works of art per artist
36 artists over the course of a 12-year study

Grade 1 Artists

Giotto di Bondone (1267-1337) Italian (first contributor of the Italian Renaissance)
Jan van Eyck (or Johannes de Eyck) (c.1390-1441) Flemish (Early Netherlands Renaissance)
Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510) Italian (Florentine, Early Renaissance)

Grade 2 Artists

Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) Italian (Florentine, High Renaissance)
Michelangelo (1475-1564) Italian (Florentine, High Renaissance)
Raphael (1483-1520) Italian (Florentine, High Renaissance)

Grade 3 Artists

Titian (1488-1576) Italian (High Renaissance)
Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1525-1569) Dutch (Flemish, Netherlands Renaissance)
El Greco (1541-1614) Greek (Spanish, High Renaissance)

Grade 4 Artists

Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) Flemish (Baroque)
Diego Velásquez (1599-1660) Spanish
Rembrandt (1606-1669) Dutch (Baroque)

Grade 5 Artists

Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675) Dutch (Baroque)
Francisco Goya (1746-1828) Spanish (father of modern art)
David (1748-1825) French (Neo-Classical)

Grade 6 Artists

John James Audubon (1785-1851) French-American (Naturalist)
Edouard Manet (1832-1883) French (Impressionist)
Paul Cézanne (1839-1906) French (Post-Impressionist)

Grade 7 Artists

Claude Monet (1840-1926) French (Impressionist)
Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) French (Impressionist)
Mary Cassatt (1844-1926) American (Impressionist)

Grade 8 Artists

Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) French (Post-Impressionist)
Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) Dutch (Post-Impressionist)
Georges Seurat (1859-1891) French (Post-Impressionist)

Grade 9 Artists

Grandma Moses (1860-1961) American (Folk Art)
Henri Matisse (1869-1954) French (Fauvism)
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) Spanish (Cubism)

Grade 10 Artists

M.C. Escher (1898-1972) Netherlander (Graphic Artist)
Salvador Dali (1904-1989) Spanish (Surrealist)
William de Kooning (1904-1997) Hollander (Abstract Expressionist)

Grade 11 Artists

Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) Mexican
Jackson Pollock (1912-1956) American (Abstract Expressionist)
Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009) American (Realist)

Grade 12 Artists

Andy Warhol (1928-1987) American (Pop Art)
student’s choice
student’s choice

Symphony of Science

Someone on the Living Science Yahoo Group shared a link to Symphony of Science and it is awesome! There are four music videos, also available as MP3 downloads, of some very cool science songs.  I'm very impressed and have listened to the songs quite a few times already this morning.  These will be great to listen to in the car.

Evolutionary content, though, for those of you who avoid that.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

My Plan for American History

ETA ~ My history-loving son has begged me to do history 5 days a week, so the following plans are changing.  I'm going to go ahead and do American History as a separate course alongside our world history course.  I will still be using the listed resources, just in a different timeframe.  I'll try to link to the updated plans when I get them posted.

I've gone around and around trying to figure out how I want to do American History.  I think I'm going to pick a plan and stick with it so I don't drive myself to drink.  I believe that it's important to know the history of our country in-depth, but I also think that learning our history in context with that of the rest of the world is important.  So I'm going to continue to use The Story of the World series by Susan Wise Bauer for world history but interject extra studies in chapters when American history topics arise. 

I'll be pulling book ideas from the Winter Promise Early American History, Living Books Curriculum, and Sonlight book lists, as well as using CoreKnowledge Lesson Plans.

What follows are my plans for second through fourth grades.  Grade 1 is the study of ancient world history, so American history doesn't really factor in.  We've already read some books and had a few lessons on Vikings and Native Americans, but I'm going to back off for now and wait until next year to really dig in.  Some SOTW chapters are missing from the list.  I don't have all of the books in front of me, so I'm not positive what the topic is for all of the chapters yet.
Grade 2 ~ The Middle Ages (Pre-colonial and Colonial American)
Chapter 14: The Arrival of the Norsemen (SOTW2) 
                 Vikings  (link to a blog post of mine)
Chapter 31: Exploring New Worlds (SOTW2)
Chapter 32: The American Kingdoms (SOTW2)
Chapter 33: Spain, Portugal, and the New World (SOTW2)
                 Explorers (link to a blog post of mine)
                 Travel to Mesoamerica pdf (CK Lesson Plans)
                 Columbus and the Conquistadors pdf (CK Lesson Plans)
Chapter 40: New Ventures to the Americas (SOTW2)
                 Thirteen Colonies (link to a blog post of mine)
                 Land Ho!  Early Exploration and Settlement of the Americas pdf (CK Lesson Plans)
Grade 3 ~ Early Modern Times (Birth of a Nation )
Hero Tales From American History by Henry Cabot Lodge and Theodore Roosevelt
Chapter 22: Revolution! (SOTW3)
                 The American Revolution and Its Heroes pdf (CK Lesson Plans) 
Chapter 23: The New Country (SOTW3)
Chapter 32: The Opened West (SOTW3)
                   Go West Young Man! pdf (CK Lesson Plans)
Chapter 33: The End of Napoleon (SOTW3)
                   Oh, Say Can You See and Learn About the War of 1812? pdf (CK Lesson Plans)               
Chapter 36: The Slave Trade Ends (SOTW3)
Chapter 38: American Tragedies (SOTW3)   
Chapter 40: Mexico and Her Neighbor (SOTW3)
Chapter 42: The World of Forty-Nine (SOTW3)

Grade 4 ~ The Modern Age 
Hero Tales From American History by Henry Cabot Lodge and Theodore Roosevelt
Chapter 5: The American Civil War (SOTW4)
                 A Nation Divided pdf Civil War (CK Lesson Plans)
Chapter 20: Revolution In the Americas … War In the World (WWI)
Chapter 21: A Revolution Begins, and the Great War Ends (WWI)
Chapter 26: The Great Crash, and What Came of It
Chapter 28: The Second World War
Chapter 29: The End of World War II
Chapter 35: The Cold War
Chapter 36: Struggles and Assassinations
Chapter 37: Two Short Wars and One Long One
Chapter 42: The End of the Twentieth Century

American Government

I have found a free online resource, found at the PASS Website and in pdf format, that could be used for a spine for American History, but I'm still exploring it to see if it is age appropriate for the elementary years.  So far it looks like a better choice for middle school, and we already have Joy Hakim's A History of US on the shelf. 

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey: Earth & Space

We've decided to go with R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey for our science curriculum.   I want to keep track of the web pages and resources that we use to enhance our studies.  Items I want to use will be colored blue, items we actually get around to using will be colored green.

Unit 1: Weather Changes
The Weather Channel Kids - Weather Encyclopedia
Web Weather for Kids
Vortex Storybook
Weather Coloring Pages
Wild Weather Adventure 
Scholastic Interactive Weather Maker

Unit 2: The Water Cycle

Unit 3: Air Surrounds the Earth

Unit 4: Earth's Surface Is Changing

Unit 5: What Is Inside the Earth?

Unit 6: Rocks Are Made of Minerals

Unit 7: The Earth Recycles Rock

Unit 8: The Weather Makes Rocks Weather

Unit 9: Soil Is Dirt and Dirt Is Good

Unit 10: The Moon Is Staring at Us

Unit 11: The Sun is the Center of the Solar System

Unit 12: What's Out in Space